If you will permit me, I am going to take you on a short trip back to Manchester in 2002 when Sonic Boom Six hit the scene. Within a fairly short period of time, they began picking up a reputation for their high energy and upbeat live shows, and a sound that stood out from the crowd. Its blend of punk, reggae and ska with more contemporary rap drew in listeners with a very grounded and real message that rang true with many. Fast forward a decade to 2012, and the release of their latest self titled album, and it is instantly plain to see that while Sonic Boom Six have certainly grown as a band, updated, and transformed their sound, the core message and mission in their music is as prevalent and strong as ever.
Sonic Boom Six have certainly kept up with that initial feel of creating a genre of their own and constantly advancing what they do thanks to keeping an ear to the ground and picking up on new sounds as they have appeared over the last while, with an updated sound that takes the sound of previous albums and adds in a whole new range of influences from genres as diverse as metal and dubstep/electronic music and combined them in a way that in theory shouldn’t really work, but in practice has worked absolutely perfectly. This 'all-inclusive’ sound is then furthered by them firmly sticking to their guns, as a band based very much in their mission of promoting a good feeling and creating a very community-based feel to their music. There is perhaps no better example than the opening track of Sonic Boom Six, For The Kids Of The Multiculture, a fairly straightforward track (by Sonic Boom Six standard at least) promoting and celebrating the fact that while we are constantly assaulted by stories of violence and hate, there are areas where people of all races and beliefs can come together and create something better – ‘our contribution to calling Britain great’.
From there the album expands its sound with tracks like the first single Virus, a track taking quite obvious influence from acts like Pendulum in its blend of electronics and synths with a more traditional guitar based sound, and the trademark vocals of Sonic Boom Six’s two vocalists Laila K and Barney Boom – trading parts between their two very distinct voices to great effect. The following tracks then continue to blend these sounds with moments of what probably counts as the traditional Sonic Boom Six reggae and ska infused sound before launching in with distorted guitars or moments of almost dubstep sounding synths tied together perfectly. A sound that keeps you on your toes, never being entirely sure what is coming next.
What is perhaps more predictable is that feeling of activism and inclusion throughout – the lament of the baffling human cost of war in Gary’s Got A Gun or the reaction to events like the London riots in S.O.S. (State Of Shock) and Flatline, both featuring news clips that instantly bring to mind the reports from the riots, but are equally as applicable to many other events in recent memory. Rather than being entirely a treaty on the misguided natures of many there are still more than enough moments of hope spread throughout the album, such as Keep On Believing’s tale of the feelings of times spent travelling to gigs and the feeling of having everything to live for.
Sonic Boom Six are the perfect example of a band completely comfortable in growing and expanding the possibilities prevalent in modern music, and yet completely in control of themselves and managing to perfectly straddle the line between constantly repeating themselves and alienating previous fans. A sound that both manages to capture what made them such a well loved band, and grow and expand musically. Pretty much the only complaint I have about Sonic Boom Six is the fact that I personally won’t be able to catch them live on the upcoming tour, a show I would heartily recommend to anyone who has the chance to.
Sonic Boom Six's Sonic Boom Six is out October 15th 2012 via Xtra Mile